Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose protests last season during the national anthem to raise awareness about social justice and race-related issues set off a nationwide debate filled with acrimony, is expected to join a group of current and former players meeting next week with NFL owners in New York.
Kaepernick was invited by the players’ group to join them at last week’s meetings, which preceded regularly scheduled owners meetings in New York. He declined to participate but has agreed to join next Tuesday’s meeting, according to Yahoo! Sports.
Kaepernick last week filed a grievance against the NFL, accusing the league of collusion because he has yet to be signed by another team. After Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers in March, he has worked out for only one team, the Seahawks, and was considered by the Ravens when Joe Flacco was injured in training camp. Despite several quarterback injuries this season, Kaepernick remains unsigned.
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said on a conference call Wednesday morning that he anticipated Kaepernick would be invited to discuss social justice issues at the upcoming meetings. Owners and player representatives have met several times in recent months to discuss ways of addressing the players’ concerns.
The league has been under pressure to change its guidelines by requiring players to stand for the anthem before all games. President Donald Trump has frequently criticized NFL players who kneel during the anthem and has demanded the league make players stand. He said at a political rally last month that players who don’t stand should be fired and suggested last week that they should instead be suspended.
Representatives from both the players and owners said after last week’s meetings that they were encouraged by the dialogue and that they anticipated further discussions in the coming weeks and months.